The dominant flower on today’s hike in the Hickory Run State Park near White Haven, Pennsylvania was the Mountain Laurel. It is one of the most common understory bushes in the central and southern Appalachian mountains. It is flowering a bit later this year in Pennsylvania due to the very cold winter the Mid Atlantic region experienced this spring. Our walk followed the Sand Spring Run, a small creek, and this is the preferred habitat of the Mountain Laurel. There were thousands of flowers and we picked some to use as ear ornaments. They must have been tough for early settlers to navigate through, hence the name of the trail, Shades of Death. The flower is the state flower of West Virginia.